Tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) occurs when you have tibial nerve damage. Your tibial nerve runs through your tarsal tunnel, a passage of bones and ligaments in your ankle. TTS symptoms may include pain, burning or tingling in the bottom of your feet and toes. Often, nonsurgical treatment decreases symptoms.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) is a condition that occurs when you have a damaged or compressed tibial nerve. The tibial nerve is a nerve in your ankle. It runs through your tarsal tunnel, a passage in your ankle made up of bones and ligaments.
People who have TTS may have pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in their feet. You might develop TTS because of overuse of your foot and ankle. You’re more likely to develop TTS if you exercise strenuously or frequently, especially if you have a very flat foot.
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Experts don’t know exactly how many people have tarsal tunnel syndrome. Many people who have TTS don’t get a formal diagnosis. TTS can affect people of all ages.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when something damages your tibial nerve. Causes of tibial nerve damage can include:
For many people who develop tarsal tunnel syndrome, TTS is part of an overuse injury. More than 2 in 5 people with tarsal tunnel syndrome have a history of injuries such as ankle sprains. A sprained ankle is an injury to your ankle ligaments.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome causes signs of nerve pain. TTS usually causes pain in the inside of your ankle or the bottom of your feet. You may also experience:
Often, symptoms worsen during or after physical activity. If TTS is severe or long-lasting, you may experience symptoms all the time.
To diagnose tarsal tunnel syndrome, your healthcare provider will ask you to describe your symptoms. They may examine your ankle or look for injuries, as well.
Your healthcare provider may also use:
Many people can manage tarsal tunnel syndrome symptoms with at-home or over-the-counter treatments. You might try:
Your healthcare provider may also recommend nonsurgical treatments such as:
If TTS symptoms are still severe after trying nonsurgical treatments, your healthcare provider might recommend surgery. Operations are available that can release your tibial nerve or widen your tarsal tunnel. If a mass is putting pressure on your nerve, your surgeon will remove it.
There’s no guaranteed way to prevent tarsal tunnel syndrome. You can lower your risk of developing TTS if you:
Sometimes, symptoms go away after you treat the underlying cause of TTS. For example, if you have a bone spur or lipoma, symptoms may disappear after treatment.
Often, people manage TTS symptoms long-term. TTS is less likely to go away entirely if you have a chronic condition such as arthritis.
Without treatment, TTS can lead to nerve damage. If you develop nerve damage, it can be permanent and irreversible. You may have difficulty walking, exercising or performing your daily activities.
Thankfully, treatment can help you manage TTS symptoms. For the best results, it’s important to get treatment as soon as you start experiencing symptoms. Depending on the cause of TTS, treatment may even cure the condition.
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
Some foot conditions have symptoms that are similar to TTS symptoms. A healthcare provider can offer an accurate diagnosis and treatment. These conditions include:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects your foot and ankle. It occurs when your tibial nerve is damaged. Often, people develop TTS after overuse injuries. For many, nonsurgical treatment brings relief from tarsal tunnel syndrome. Your healthcare provider may recommend medications, steroid injections or custom orthotics. In severe cases, treatment might include surgery.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/20/2021.
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